The Conference Board, the non-profit research group that is responsible for some of the world’s most closely-watched economic indexes, announced yesterday that consumer confidence rose 9.3 points in February in what is perhaps the strongest indication yet that the economy is improving.
The company reported there was actually a triple play in rising indices: the consumer confidence index rose from 61.5 in January to 70.8 in February; the present situation index rose from 38.8 to 45; and the expectations index increased from 76.7 to 88.
Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said in a HousingWire summary of the indices that consumers are more optimistic in spite of some tricky economic developments in recent weeks.
“Consumers are considerably less pessimistic about current business and labor market conditions than they were in January,” Franco said. “And, despite further increases in gas prices, they are more optimistic about the short-term outlook for the economy, job prospects and their financial situation.”
Indeed, few industries are as reliant on economic indicators as housing. Homeownership is often the most expensive purchase in a consumer’s lifetime, and without a strong job market, optimistic consumer spending and ambitious investment, the economic climate will not foster confident consumers, and home sales will not grow.
Other key findings from The Conference Board included: respondents who saw business conditions as bad decreased from 38.3 percent to 31.2 percent; those who saw jobs as hard to get decreased from 43.3 percent to 38.7 percent; and those expecting business conditions to improve rose from 16.7 percent to 18.7 percent, while those expecting worsening business conditions dropped from 14.6 percent to 11.8 percent.